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52 Reviews
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59 of 61 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great day's read
I couldn't put this down when I got it and as I am under doctor's orders to rest, it was great to do so and not feel guilty. I first read Edna O'Brien when I was young and before my children arrived. I loved it and bought the rest. Her later books did not do it for me but I loved this biography. I'm Irish and there was so much I recognised from my grandmother's...
Published on 27 Sept. 2012 by Elayna Winters

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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful in parts...
I enjoyed the early parts of the book, the reminiscences about O'Brien's childhood, the conflict of being a young woman ahead of her time, incurring the wrath of her family, the church and Irish rural society. The later parts were a little vague at times, as if the writer, having decided, under pressure, to finally write her autobiography, was reluctant to do so. She...
Published on 8 Nov. 2012 by Patricia Fawcett


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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful in parts..., 8 Nov. 2012
By 
Patricia Fawcett (Bangor, Northern Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Country Girl (Kindle Edition)
I enjoyed the early parts of the book, the reminiscences about O'Brien's childhood, the conflict of being a young woman ahead of her time, incurring the wrath of her family, the church and Irish rural society. The later parts were a little vague at times, as if the writer, having decided, under pressure, to finally write her autobiography, was reluctant to do so. She certainly does not lay her emotions bare before us, or to share an in-depth view of her take on life. It might have been better for O'Brien to have written another novel instead. I am going back to re-read her earlier work.
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59 of 61 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great day's read, 27 Sept. 2012
By 
Elayna Winters (Northern Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Country Girl (Hardcover)
I couldn't put this down when I got it and as I am under doctor's orders to rest, it was great to do so and not feel guilty. I first read Edna O'Brien when I was young and before my children arrived. I loved it and bought the rest. Her later books did not do it for me but I loved this biography. I'm Irish and there was so much I recognised from my grandmother's stories in Rural Ireland. She was a great beauty and is still elegant and witty, but most of all she is a wonderful wordsmith.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Country girl ......, 12 Oct. 2012
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This review is from: Country Girl (Hardcover)
i have waited eagerly for this book to be published, I consider Edna o'brien to be an exemplary writer who is responsible for my love of literature. she tells her story, of her life, with honesty and vividness and to read it has been a joy. She writes with such depth and from the soul. you follow her through chapters of her school days, home life, first feelings of love and can see how through observations of others and of nature, how her descriptions come alive. I think Edna lives in the present, in the true sense of the word, not many people observe to the degree of awakening the senses. She remains true to herself and a gift to the reader.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars vissi d'arte, vissi d'amore . . ., 26 July 2013
By 
Stanley Crowe (Greenville, SC) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Country Girl (Paperback)
I thoroughly enjoyed Edna O'Brien's memoir, partly because it is so vividly written and also because it makes interesting narrative choices. It's progress is broadly chronological, and she can be quite specific about dates, but in the middle, after the end of her marriage in the mid-60's, she becomes less specific about the times of the events that she is narrating, and I think we're to understand by this that she doesn't intend her readers to see her life as having a "shape" imposed upon it by the writer. The states of mind of which she is capable are, one assumes, more important to her than some false myth of coherence. As a result, the chapters have something of the independence of short stories, and given their treatment of the erotic life and the vagaries of the literary life, one can perhaps see why a writer like Alice Munro admires her. Stylistically, though, O'Brien is much more expressive than Munro and is capable of lyricism in her writing, particularly about nature and elemental forces, that Munro doesn't attempt. All that said, however, the early chapters, which are the most explicitly chronological, might be said to give us "an Irish childhood," in which the awareness of certain stereotypes lurks in the background but which, thanks to the specificity of the memories, never are allowed to reduce her experience or her writing to something "typical."

It's important to keep these qualities of lyricism and specificity in mind when responding to what some reviewers call O'Brien's "name-dropping": her stories of time spent with Jackie Onassis, Hillary Clinton, Robert Mitchum, Paul McCartney and others. She doesn't try to rationalize a relation between the social self and the "responder to nature," who is also a responder to erotic promptings that she treats directly, unashamedly, without coyness, and without physical explicitness. For her, the feeling is the thing, and it's a feeling for the person, a need that isn't simply "physical," and that manifests itself also in a desire to maintain family ties (albeit on her terms) even when her "behavior" causes problems that threaten her relation to her children (in a custody fight) and her parents (her father, apparently, never forgives her for writing so explicitly about the emotional and sexual lives of women). I would add that her political position is anything but ideological -- she doesn't call herself a feminist, and she seems to think that a sensible politics is one that enables a humane social life. She can cast a cold eye on the violence in Ireland, and she can see in Gerry Adams something more than the stereotypical IRA "hard man."

At the bottom of it all, though, is O'Brien's compulsion to write. She just has to do it, and she believes that keeping herself open to experience -- i. e. of not allowing anyone else to dictate her language -- is a necessary condition of an honest writing life. Her sexual freedom (which seems to be very far short of promiscuity) is part of this open-ness, I think, and so, I think, is her socializing and her traveling. And so is her experiment with LSD under the direction (if that is the best word) of R. D. Laing. Her treatment of this episode is harrowing, and as she persists with Laing , her disillusionment with him becomes clear. Also critical to her writing is a sense of place -- very often, it seems, especially after she is financially secure, she moves to write -- her story of her Connemara house is quite marvelous, for she never does quite settle, even though she goes to great trouble to move. In fact, "never settling" seems to be her condition.

Don't look here for a theory of writing or a theory of life -- just follow this brave and individual person on a journey the point of which is to continue on the journey and find things to write out of it. She doesn't really explain how she writes, nor does she analyze what she writes. She lives and she writes, and she lives to write.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars So much left unsaid, 1 Mar. 2013
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This review is from: Country Girl (Kindle Edition)
A fascinating person but in this autobiography Edna O'Brien flits through her life, never landing long enough to tell us the whys and the wherefores. I feel she has tried to cover too much ground and cram it into a reasonably-sized book. I bet she has enough material for several volumes. Ultimately, I don't feel I know her any better now than I did before.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth the Wait!, 25 Oct. 2012
By 
M. Fallon "shamrockgirl" (Norfolk, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Country Girl (Hardcover)
This has come at quite an apt time as I have had the great pleasure of seeing Edna O'Brien in conversation last night as part of a Literature Festival at UEA(Norwich University)and got my copy signed by her. I have waited a long time for this memoir and wasn't disappointed, it's not like the usual autobiographies with lots of specific detail going back in history, but all the better for it, in my opinion. The title "Country Girl" gives you a clue as this goes back to her earliest novels and it's a time in her life she goes back to again and again as it formed the person she became in later life, I feel. I think this book will build on what fans probably already know about her character more than anything, as that is what makes her such a great writer and a lover of language. There is no one quite like her and I love her independent and take no prisnors attitude to life and love!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'A Very Honest Writer', 17 Dec. 2012
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This review is from: Country Girl (Hardcover)
In the afterword to her extremaly honest autiobiography. Ms O' Brien says she had mixed feelings about writing it. I can well understand why. Reliving the latter part of her relationship with her husband must have been very painful. Yet she relives that period with unflinching courage.
As a young man Ms O'Brien's novels were encouraging especially ' Night' and "Johnny I hardly Knew You'. Her shoet stories also inspired me especially her early collection 'The Love Object'.
Again in 'Country Girl' Ms.O'Brien demonstrated her control and love of language. Every sentance she writes is poetry.
Anthony Kirby,Montreal,Canada.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seemingly honest with a dreamy quality, 5 Jan. 2013
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Seemingly honest with a dreamy quality. I enjoy her Irishness and turn of phrase. I found there were lots of questions left unanswered but that adds to the dreamyness.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Country Girl, 3 Dec. 2012
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Fantastic - kept me reading until 3.00 am, took me back years with all the 'names' she knew and mixed with.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best Auto-biography ever, 29 Nov. 2012
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I heard this read by Edna O'Brien on radio and bought it straight away, I thiunk it's oneof the best books I've ever read
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Country Girl by Edna O'Brien
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